Want to start up a fiction writer like an outboard motor, I mean, really get him babbling about inspiration and motivation, memories and ‘a moment that changed my life’?
As him where his ideas come from. And then put on your spit-guard and stand back.
When I was first asked this question, I strove to be as earnest as possible, walking backward through my mind like a little Sherlock Holmes – did it start here, did it start there? – and after I’d been spewing nonsense for, like, twenty minutes, non-stop, I gave up. The words faded in my mouth like a slowly deflating balloon. I had no real clue what I was going on about.
Since then, I’ve participated in numerous author events and when a fellow writer is asked this question, I peek at my watch and begin planning a nap-with-my-eyes-open. It’s not uncommon for a response to begin with something like, “Well, when I was a child back in Akron…” Oy vey. You might as well start handing out the No-Doze now.
Here’s all that I know about myself. It starts and ends in the length of a blink of an eye.
I see something on the streets of Chicago – a well-dressed old woman yelling at a cop, who seems scared – or read a story in the news about some guy who, while renovating a deserted home, finds a locked metal box hidden inside of a wall – and that’s it. Done. The idea will be planted like a tree and the rest of the forest, so to speak – the story or book – will grow up around it.
The rest of the process is really too dull to describe. I sit, I write, I edit. But in the end, if that blink has become a book, I know I’ve done my job.
T.M. Goeglein’s new novel Flicker & Burn releases August 20, 2013 from Putnam Juvenile.
Sara Jane Rispoli is still searching for her missing family, but instead of fighting off a turncoat uncle and crooked cops, this time she finds herself on the run from creepy beings with red, pulsing eyes and pale white skin chasing her through the streets in ice cream trucks; they can only be described as Ice Cream Creatures. They’re terrifying and hell bent on killing her, but they’re also a link to her family, a clue to where they might be and who has them. While she battles these new pursuers, she’s also discovering more about her own cold fury and more about the Chicago Outfit, how the past misdeeds–old murders and vendettas–might just be connected to her present and the disappearance of her family. But connecting the dots is tough and time-consuming and may finally be the undoing of her relationship with the handsome Max–who’s now her boyfriend. But for his own safety, Sara Jane may have to end this relationship before it even really starts. Her pursuers who’ve shown her her mother’s amputated finger and the head of the Chicago Outfit who’s just whistled her in for a sit-down make a romance unthinkable. The only thing that matters is finding her family and keeping everyone she loves alive.